On Jan.9 Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Indiana, was at Lake Okeechobee, Florida, preparing for the EverStart Series tournament. Around 3 p.m., Wheeler took some time away from those tournament-preparation chores to explain how, when and where he uses TriggerX's Buzz Tail Worm.
TriggerX introduced it to the angling world in July at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, trumpeting it as a worm designed to buzz across the top of aquatic vegetation or other shallow-water environments where a buzzbait might be too overbearing.
Since Wheeler began working with it, he has discovered three unique ways to wield it and three different kinds of waterways at which to employ it. And as 2013 unfolds, he thinks that he will discover more waters and ways to utilize this unique worm.
Two of his applications are shallow-water presentations. The third one is a deep-water method.
One of the types of waterways that he likes to use it is a natural lake that is embellished with an abundance of submergent, as well as emergent, aquatic vegetation. And Lake Okeechobee fits this description.
Wheeler also found that it is an effective bait at reservoirs that are endowed with patches of milfoil, hydrilla and coontail. Guntersville Lake, Alabama, and Kentucky Lake are two reservoirs where he has fruitfully used it.
The third kind of waterway where Wheeler found the Buzz Tail Worm to be productive has been the relative small reservoirs around his home in central Indiana. It is at these reservoirs where he works with it on the bottom.
One of Wheeler's favorite ways to wield the Buzz Tail Worm is to employ what he calls "the swimbait alternative," which is more subtle or alluring than a swimbait. From Wheeler's perspective, the swimbait has become an omnipresent phenomenon in the bass-fishing world. Therefore, when most anglers are using various styles of swimbaits, Wheeler will often dress a Buzz Tail Worm Texas-style on a 6/0 VMC "Ike Approved" Heavy Duty Weighted Swimbait Hook. It is an extra-wide-gap hook with a 3/16-ounce weight that is perfectly situated on the shank of the hook and shaped to be a keel. This keel-style sinker allows Wheeler to retrieve the Buzz Tail Worm at a rapid pace without having it twist and turn; in fact, he says it "runs as straight as an arrow." With this setup, Wheeler retrieves the Buzz Tail Worm two to four feet under the surface. The depth of his retrieve is determined by how far the top of submergent vegetation is from the surface of the water. During the retrieve, he holds his rod from the two to three o'clock position. He described the retrieve as a steady one that is not enhanced by shakes and twitches, but when he has retrieved it about halfway back to the boat, he executes a one- to two-second pause, and then he will once again begin the steady retrieve of the Buzz Tail Worm the rest of the way back to the boat. However, if he notices a bass following the Buzz Tail Worm, he will execute a pause as a means to provoke that bass to engulf it. To execute this swimbait tactic with the Buzz Tail Worm, Wheeler works with a seven-foot, medium-heavy rod and a 7.0:1 reel. He prefers to spool the reel with 14-pound-test Sufix Castable Invisiline Fluorocarbon, but if the vegetation is thick, making it difficult to extract a bass from it, he will opt for Sufix's 17-pound-test fluorocarbon. There are places where the vegetation is extremely thick, and that compels Wheeler to spool his reel with 50-pound-test Sufix 832 Advanced Braided Superline forces.
The other shallow-water presentation is what Wheeler calls "burning it on top." It is also what he describes as a finesse substitute for a buzzbait, reeling a frog or popping a topwater bait. He rigs it on the same rod and reel that he employs when he is working it like a swimbait. But when he buzzes it on top, his reel is always spooled with 50-pound-test Sufix 832 Advanced Braided Superline. The Buzz Tail Worm is attached Texas style to a 6/0 VMC Heavy Duty Worm Hook. Directly in front of the hook, Wheeler pegs a 1/16-ounce slip sinker to the line. As he retrieves the Buzz Tail Worm across the surface, he holds his rod from the one to three o'clock positions. At the start of the retrieve the rod is at the one o'clock position, and as it gets closer to the boat, he drops the rod to the three o'clock position. When a bass strikes the bait, Wheeler drops the rod tip to the five o'clock position, reels in the slack line, counts to two and then forcefully lifts the rod to the 12 o'clock position to set the hook.
At the reservoirs that surround Indianapolis, Wheeler rigs the Buzz Tail Worm on a Carolina rig. To to this, he works with a medium-heavy-powered, 7 1/2-foot rod that is designed for wielding Carolina rigs. His 7.0:1 reel is spooled 17-pound-test Sufix Castable Invisiline Fluorocarbon. Onto the 17-pound-test line, he slips on a 3/4-ounce egg sinker, and then to one end of a barrel swivel, Wheeler attaches the 17-pound-test line. To the other end of the barrel swivel, he ties a 14-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. The shortest leader he uses is 18 inches, and the longest is 26 inches. On most outings, his leader is 22 inches long. To the end of the leader, he attaches a 3/0 VMC Worm Hook. Wheeler described his retrieve as a standard pull-and-drag routine, which is devoid of deadstick pauses. During the entire retrieve, he holds the rod to his side and at the three o'clock position.
The shallowest water he plies with the Carolina rig is four feet; the deepest water is 25 feet, and most of the time, Wheeler pulls and drags it in eight to 12 feet of water.
The Buzz Tail Worm is packaged as a paddle-tail worm, but anglers can cut the perforated edge of the tail and make it into s curly- or ribbon-tail worm. And with all of his applications, Wheeler always cuts the paddle tail to make it a curly-tail worm.
When Wheeler discovers other ways to entice largemouth bass with the Buzz Tail Worm during his 2013 Ever Start Series, Walmart FLW Tour and other piscatorial endeavors, we will work together to create another blog.
It is available in nine colors and enhanced with UltraBite Aggression Pheromones. A package of eight retails for $4.89.
(1) Dan Quinn of Hudson, Wisconsin, is the Field Promotions Coordinator for Rapala, and he rigs his Buzz Tail Worms with a pegged 1/8-ounce bullet sinker. When he is buzzing this combo across matted patches of vegetation, he stops the buzzing retrieve when it reaches a hole in the vegetation, and allows it to sink into the hole. When it is in that hole, Quinn will execute a yo-yo-style maneuver by lifting and dropping his rod several feet.
(2) In a week or two, we will post a blog about how Bassmaster professional bass angler Davy Hite of Ninety Six, South Carolina, uses the Buzz Tail Worm.
(3) At the EverStart Series event a Lake Okeechobee, Wheeler caught 10 largemouth bass that weighed 32.07 pounds. He competed against 177 anglers, finished in 12th place, and garnered $2,500 in prize money.